WGIG Presents Four Internet Options


The United Nations Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) released on July 14, 2005, a report on the governance of the Internet, the conclusions of which will be considered during the second phase of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), to be held in November 2005 in Tunis.

The report, a copy of which has been obtained by Abu-Ghazaleh Intellectual Property (AGIP), provides proposals to improve current Internet governance arrangements and sets priorities for future action. It proposes a further internationalization of Internet governance arrangements, based on the WSIS Declaration of Principles (adopted in 2003) which advocates multilateralism and the involvement of all stakeholders and international organizations. The report identifies a wide range of governance functions but excludes government involvement in day-to-day operational management of the Internet.

The report notes that there is no global multi-stakeholder forum to address Internet related public policy issues. It therefore proposes the creation of a global forum for dialogue among all stakeholders such as governments, the private sector, and civil society, to address problems linked to Internet governance, including spam and cybercrime. Since it was unable to agree on a single model, the WGIG sets out four possible models for the conduct of global public policy and oversight of the Internet.

One model sees no need for a specific oversight organization, but envisages the possibility of enhancing the role of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN’s) Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC).

Another model suggests setting up a new body that would address public policy issues in relation to ICANN competencies and possibly other issues that do not fall within the scope of other existing institutions.

A third model envisages the creation of a new body that would replace the GAC and have wide ranging policy competencies. ICANN would be accountable to this new body which would also facilitate negotiation of Internet-related treaties, conventions, and agreements. It would be linked to the United Nations.

A fourth model proposes new structures for three interrelated areas of Internet policy governance, oversight, and global coordination. It suggests the creation of three new bodies for each of these functions and would include a reformed internationalized ICANN linked to the United Nations.

The report, which has a strong focus on development, advocates a meaningful participation of developing countries in Internet governance and recommends ways to reinforce their capacities to deal with these issues.

The document makes recommendations in a number of policy areas: administration of the root zone files and system; allocation of domain names; IP addressing; interconnection costs; Internet stability, security and cybercrime; spam or junk-emails; data protection and privacy rights; consumer rights; intellectual property rights; meaningful participation in global policy development; capacity building; freedom of expression; and multilingualism.

The report was presented by WGIG Chairman Nitin Desai and Executive Coordinator Markus Kummer in Geneva on July 18 at a meeting open to all stakeholders.

In conjunction with the presentation of the report, a workshop on Internet Governance was held on July 19. The workshop focused on national policies related to Internet governance and highlighted the importance of a coordinated multi-stakeholder approach at the national level.

The workshop presented various case studies, looking at different models and representing a wide range of experiences. Panelists from Brazil, Egypt, India, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam gave presentations of national policies and multi-stakeholder cooperation in their respective countries. The panel examined among other things the legal and policy frameworks as well as principles commonly viewed as conducive to the development and growth of the Internet.

The WGIG met four times between November 2004 and June 2005, and held consultations with all stakeholders. The group was comprised of 40 members from governments, private sector, and civil society. (A list of members is available at www.wgig.org/members.html).

The report is available on the WGIG and WSIS websites at: www.wgig.org and www.itu.int/wsis.

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